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Cruel & Unusual

Cruel & Unusual (2014) Movie Poster
Canada  •    •  95m  •    •  Directed by: Merlin Dervisevic.  •  Starring: David Richmond-Peck, Bernadette Saquibal, Michelle Harrison, Monsour Cataquiz, Kyle Cassie, Mary Black, Michael Eklund, Richard Harmon, Andy Thompson, John Hainsworth, Jena Skodje, Jared Ager-Foster, Fraser Kirkland.  •  Music by: Mark Korven.
    Wrongly condemned for killing his wife, a man finds himself in a mysterious institution where he is sentenced to relive her death for eternity.


   Length:  Languages:  Subtitles:


Image from: Cruel & Unusual (2014)
Image from: Cruel & Unusual (2014)
Image from: Cruel & Unusual (2014)
Image from: Cruel & Unusual (2014)
Edgar is on the floor of the bathroom giving CPR to someone. Then all of a sudden he is in the car with his wife Maylon, and he is upset. We don't know whether he is remembering a dream or whether that was a real memory. All we know is Maylon is concerned, and she should be since he is driving and apparently distracted. Edgar stops the car. And there is a call from the school. Maylon's her 13-year-old son Gogan is in trouble for hurting someone.

Before I go to what happens next, some background information might be useful. We learn all this gradually. Maylon appears to be Asian, Middle Eastern or Native American. I don't recall learning what her ethnicity is (one reviewer says Filipino) but there are subtitles when she speaks to Gogan..Edgar refers to grading papers, so he is a teacher. He taught Maylon English and they fell in love. Which is somewhat surprising, because Maylon is beautiful, Edgar is kind of a loser nerd and his brother Lance is good-looking. Edgar suspects Maylon of cheating on him, and his relationship with Gogan is not ideal. He wants Gogan to live with other relatives, and Gogan doesn't want to. Gogan is wrong about why.

With all this out of the way, let's continue. The couple returns home and they seem to be getting along fine. Edgar mows the lawn because Gogan didn't, and he has trouble with the mower. Lance comes over and fixes it. In scenes inside the house, Edgar ends up in a different place suddenly more than once. It's like he's still dreaming.

Then Edgar goes into the bedroom and finds himself in a long depressing hallway with many doors, all of them locked. When he finally finds a door that will unlock, he is in what looks like an AA meeting except the stern woman known as "Facilitator" who is in charge appears on a TV screen with a weak signal as if on an analog broadcast but is somehow able to see everything that happens in the room, though we can't see a camera, and it would have to be multiple cameras for her to see everything. Also, if someone breaks that TV... well, the laws of science don't apply here.

Edgar has no idea why he is there. A hot woman named Doris wearing a miniskirt and boots is quite mean to Edgar. I should mention at this point that language was obviously cleaned up for TV and characters' mouths are blurred when it is. Any ideas what else she could be saying when we hear nothing and then "Off!" Actually, there are other words but I think it's that one.

William is a group member who gets up and admits what he did wrong. He is kind of shy and submissive. Apparently everyone has done something wrong and they have to admit it. Edgar won't participate and eventually he leaves the room and goes into another one. In that room is a demanding man, also on a TV screen, who resembles Christopher Meloni of "SVU". He explains things to Edgar and expects him to do what he is told. Apparently Edgar is dead.

At some point the events at the beginning of the movie repeat themselves, and I am led to believe this is like "Groundhog Day". Maybe Edgar will get to do things differently. We do see different details, as if some details were left out the first time. This time Edgar tries to stop what is inevitable. Can he? There is one additional detail, though. He suspects Maylon of having an affair with Lance and realizes Maylon may have tried to kill him.

Well, somehow Edgar ends up back and that place. Julien is kind of a rebel and tries to help Edgar and be his friend, while at the same time being kind of a bully. Kind of like Eddie Haskell without the being charming to those in authority. Julien is the best character yet in this movie, but that will soon change. Doris ends up being nicer as well. We learn what each person did and it's pretty terrible. Isabel is the only other member of the group mentioned by name, but she doesn't do much. She makes her confession while the others are plotting what they will do.

Edgar knows a way to escape and he wants to help the others. Remember the man who looks like Christopher Meloni? In his room there is a possible escape route. And then what happens when Edgar gets out? Does this end the nightmare? Does he get a chance to try again and make things right? Actually, there are two other possibilities. I won't say what the fourth one is because that leads to what is ultimately a satisfying ending. But the third option is that Edgar can see details he didn't see before, which help him understand what was really happening. Fans of "Quantum Leap" may be happy at this point. What happens next is kind of long but informative.

The ending finally makes everything we have suffered through worth watching. It's actually quite amazing.

The summary of my comments was going to be "The Eighth Amendment prevents you from being forced to see this movie". It was pretty unpleasant for someone like me. but now that I know how it ends, it just takes patience and it's actually quite well done, which plenty of good acting and writing.

I would say the standout performances come from Michael Eklund as Julien and Michelle Harrison as Doris. These are just the best because of what these characters do. Actually David Richmond-Peck as Edgar eventually makes an impression. He was good enough for most of the movie, but nothing spectacular. And yet at the end, He delivers.

If you like weird sci-fi with philosophical questions and confronting your guilt, this might be for you.

Review by vchimpanzee from the Internet Movie Database.